Saturday, January 28, 2017

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous - Quartzite, AZ

On January 9th Barbara and I rolled into Quartzite, AZ looking to take in what is known as “The Big Tent Sale”, a very huge tent that has anything and everything an RVer could ever hope to own, and an event called “The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous”.  Once we arrived in Quartzite we looked for the RTR campsite and settled into a spot way out in the desert surrounded by cacti, rocks, mountains and nearly 400 other rigs of various sizes and conjectures.  We had finally made it to what is commonly called the RTR.  

Now, Quartzite is much more than just RTR… this small Arizona town swells each winter from a population of 3,600 to anywhere from 700,000 to 1 million as campers and RV people pour in just to camp, buy stuff, explore and socialize.  It mostly turns into a huge flea market/mid-way kind of thing with vendors hawking everything from elephant ears to new and used RVs.  Seriously, we’ve seen vendors selling cacti skeletons, rocks and gems, rusting bits of metal, antique tractors, and anything that one would need to update their camper; solar panels, L.E.D. lighting, air brakes, hitches, batteries, etc., etc., etc.

Ahhhh…. but I regress.  I want to tell you about the event known as the RTR.  Bob Wells, of, started this winter meet 7 years ago with the purpose of helping others learn how to live out of their vans or cars, thus the name Rubber Tramp (think; tires).

Bob Wells of RTR &

Each year the event has steadily grown and last year Bob was somewhat taken aback with the fact that about 170 units pulled in to experience what he and a handful of others had learned over the years. Well, this year the RTR SWELLED to an unbelievable 369+ permits!  Thats a permit for each rig whether it was a Class A or a 5th Wheel, or a person who sleeps in their car.  A good average is 1.5 people per permit so the total population of just the RTR event was approximately 450 people.  Think about that… 450 human beings living together out in the desert with no amenities, learning how to survive living on the road.

Our Lazy Daze is @ 5th one up, right side of main drag. (Photo Matt Kochel)

Each day started with announcements and Bob would stress very clearly that we were all there to get along, to be kind to one another, to learn and to take care of the desert. And you know what?  It actually worked out just like that.  We all were friendly with one another and if anyone needed help with some issue, someone there would volunteer to give that person a hand.  It reminded us of a hippie commune of days past.  I found it very cool.

After the announcements, people would raise their hands, stand and voice anything that they might have for sale or to offer a service of some type or to ask for help with something.  When that was finished a seminar of some type would be given.  The seminars ranged from topics such as First Aid Kits & Health, Favorite Gadget Show & Tell, Solar Seminar, Lithium Batteries, How to Establish a State of Residency & Get Mail, Cooking Methods, etc., all aimed pretty much toward Van/Truck/Car dwellers.

This would all be repeated during the evening as well; Announcements from Bob, Requests/Services from the group and a Seminar.  Barbara and I both really enjoyed these times.

While learning about different ways to do things while out on the road was interesting, so was meeting new and interesting people.  We met Matt Kochel who is a professional Canine Photographer.  He was nice enough to hand over a Canon 1.4x F/4 Teleconverter for me to try out while we were there. He also provided the aerial drone shot of the meet. Very nice guy, as well as his service dog J.J.. 

Matt Kochel & J.J.

I also hooked up with Martin, a young man who is just 3 years into his van dweller life.  He even has a blog documenting what he has done thus far to make his van a home on wheels.  If you’re thinking of converting a van, you might want to follow along with Martin as he progresses through the various stages of change and adaptations as he continues to learn the ins and outs of living on the road. Check out  He’s only been out on the road since December so bear with him. I’m sure you’ll learn what to do as well as the what-not-to dos!  Of course, you’ll certainly want to get into Bob’s as well!

Martin of

There were several well-known bloggers there as well, some that Barbara has been following for several years and she enjoyed meeting a couple of them in person.  And if you like to people watch, this was the place to do it.  Married couples  and single women and single men living in cars, vans, truck campers and big rigs.

And their dogs. So many dogs!  You pet lovers would have a high ol’ time at the RTR meeting and greeting everyone’s pup. 

Ah yes. It was a dog's life at the RTR!

Speaking of rigs, as mentioned above there were every type that one could imagine.  The photos below are just a small handful of the ones that I found interesting.  Almost everyone was willing to show their camper to anyone who asked to see it.

One of the highlights of our stay with the RTR groups was hooking up with Bob and a few others to experience our first trip over the border into Los Algodones, Mexico.  We didn’t stay long, just enough time to see what it was like, pick up some inexpensive prescription drugs and have a quick look around.  Now that we’ve done it, we won’t be so nervous about going back down on our own and spending more time there. Looking forward to that!

After staying at the RTR meet for 9 days we moved west, on the other side of I-95 to settle in with a large contingent of Lazy Daze owners.  I’ll be giving a follow-up posting on that in about a week.  Don’t want to overload you with too much information!  :-)

Thanks for reading and hope to hear from each of you soon.
Bud & Barbara

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Goodbye 2016 - Hello 2017!

Well, here we are into our second week of January, 2017 so I thought I better get a new update on our travels before this old mind of mine decided to file those memories away, deep into some unknown area of my ever-greying grey matter.

When we last left you, we were preparing to leave Oliver Lee State Park near Alamogordo to make our way over to Carlsbad to spend Christmas with friends Chuck and Nettie, and we did just that.

Chuck and Nettie have a lease-lot through Escapees (an RV association) at a place called “The Ranch”.  It is located almost midway between Carlsbad and Artesia, NM.  Non-Escapees members are not allowed to camp there unless a current member invites them, and then the stay is 2 weeks maximum.  What’s neat about this place, is that when an Escapee member is “gone” and their lot is empty, the Association is allowed to rent their space out. As luck would have it, the lot right next door to Chuck & Nettie’s was empty, so that’s where we parked our rig for two full weeks.

Stock Photo

It was nice to see our friends again, as the last time (and first time) our paths crossed was when we were up at Eagle’s Nest.  We spent several evenings sitting with them and getting caught up on where we’ve both been, etc.  Christmas Eve brought everyone in the park together for a Christmas Eve party of snacks, singing, the telling of the Christmas Story and even a White Elephant Gift Exchange that proved to be comical to watch.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen bottles of wine get taken from one hand to another so many times!

On Christmas Day, there was a park dinner that would have satisfied the most pickiest of eaters; Smoked Pork, Smoke Brisket (both sliced and shredded), and an array of sides to compliment.  Oh, and desserts as well of course. A very good time was had by all and Barbara and I enjoyed the opportunity to sit with other members of the park and learn a little about them.  It was all nice.

While staying at The Ranch, Barbara and I made a trip to the Carlsbad Caverns.  We both had been there before but it’s such a fascinating place that if one’s in the area, it’s a must see.  There are two ways in and out of the caves; by elevator and also by the natural entrance (which requires walking down to the 800 feet depth….or up to get out.  For some reason, we chose to take the elevators down.

Every time I've seen this formation it seems more excited to see me.  ;-)

After hiking through the cave we were going to take the elevator back up, but the line was long and I had heard that the wait time was about 2 hours.  So we chose to leave the caverns by going out the natural entrance…. all 800+ feet up…and up… and up.  Whew! Talk about a workout.  Hindsight told me that we should have hiked DOWN and then taken the elevator back UP!

Going UP!

Natural Entrance... or "Exit" in our case!

There wasn’t anything “official” planned at The Ranch for New Years so we just stayed in the RV, watched the NYC Time Square Ball bring in the New Year (2 hours early for us!) and pretty much called it a night.  2017, here we come!

The Pecos River runs through Carlsbad and every year they have what is called “Christmas on the Pecos”.  Homes all along a stretch of the river decorate their yards.  For $15 each, you can purchase a seat on a pontoon boat that shuttles you up the river and then back down to view the festive lights.  Barbara and I did just that and it was a really enjoyable time.  Cold, but enjoyable.  Wind chill was probably in the mid to upper 30s.  The only photos that I took were with my phone so the quality has a lot to be desired, but you get the gist of it.  Very beautiful evening.


The only downside to our stay was auto related.  We needed to get a new radiator for the car.  Chuck came though for us big-time by making a bunch of trips into Carlsbad, hauling us back and forth to get the job done.  Not sure what we’d have done if we had been there and not have known anyone.  We were truly blessed in that respect!  

Saying our goodbyes to Chuck and Nettie, we headed “La Casita” back westerly on Monday, January second.  First stop was Monday night, at a Walmart, so no need for photos.  :-)  Our second stop, on Tuesday afternoon, was at Gilbert Ray Campground in Tuscon, AZ.

We spent two nights there, checking out the sunsets and the Saguaro Cactus. Man, are those things impressive!  Here’s an interesting thing about Saguaros; They can grow to be over 40 feet tall and lives for more than 150 years! It’s a SLOW grower, as it can take 10 years for a Saguaro to reach 1 inch in height!  By 70 years of age it can reach 6 1/2 feet tall and by 95-100 years of age, it can be a height of 15-25 feet and THEN “could” start to produce it’s first arm. I think information like that is what makes these giants of the desert so awesome to me. Talk about longevity and endurance!

I also managed to do a bit of Goodwill shopping there and from what little time I had in Tuscon, it’s a MUST RETURN place for me!  Very eclectic city.

Leaving Tuscon, we drove over towards the Phoenix area to camp at The Lost Dutchman State Park for four days.  It's actually in Apache Junction.  All of the electric sites were by reservation only and the place was FULL of campers. We felt really fortunate to find a dry-camp sight and honestly, I don’t think we could have picked a better spot if we had planned it.  We were up close with the Superstition Mountains literally in our back yard. 

Our Superstition Mountains Campsite

While there we drove up into the mountains (not The Superstition Mountains) and did a little sightseeing.  There’s even a lake up there, Canyon Lake, and the boaters (both fishing and power) were out on the water enjoying the beautiful weather.

We left The Superstitions on Monday and headed off for our original destination of Quartzite, AZ for the annual RV Gathering and that is where I am currently sitting as I write this blog entry.  We’ve traveled over 800 miles since we left Carlsbad on Jan, 2nd.  We’ll be here for the better part of the month, experiencing encampments such as The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (there now) and meeting up with the Lazy Daze groups as well.  Quartzite has a normal population of about 3,600 residents but during January and February, that population well exceeds the hundreds of thousands!  Yee Haa.  LOL  There will be plenty of things to see and do as we dry-camp out here in the desert and I look forward to sharing all of that with you soon.

We really hope that you enjoy reading our blog and that you’ll continue to hang in there with us as we travel around, seeing what this great country has to offer and as we experience the full-time RV Lifestyle.  Who knows, perhaps you’ll catch the bug and decide to join us on the road some day!  That would be awesome!

Take care and thanks for reading,

Bud & Barbara